Consistency is King at Etchells Worlds

Published on September 26th, 2017

Belvedere, CA (September 26, 2017) – The 2017 Etchells World Championship got off to a slow start today for 51 teams representing ten countries with a 2.5 hour postponement on glassy water.

When race one finally began at about 2:30pm, the wind had built to a consistent 8 to 10 knots. With an apparent left emphasis at the start, that led to a majority of the fleet favoring the pin side of the three boat line, which made for a jam packed start at that end. The start went away under X-ray with only 10 or so boats being called back. The left end worked if you got off the line, but for those who didn’t, the digging out process was painful.

At the weather mark, the fleet was tightly bunched with Chris Hampton, Andrew Wills and Senet Bischoff leading in the early running. A difficult run ensued with gains and losses in both sides and very busy leeward gate. After a good battle on the second loop, James Badenach led the fleet home, followed by Seamus McHugh and Marvin Beckmann.

Despite the late hour, the breeze looked stable AT 14 to 15 knots, so PRO, Jeff Zarwell made clear his intention to go for race 2 and stay on schedule for the week (the forecast looks light).

For Race 2, the boat end of the line was favored, but the middle right and then the middle left came in strong at the weather mark. Notably, the flooding current was less of an issue than some crews expected. Some of the usual suspects – Dirk Kneulman, Peter Duncan, Graeme Taylor, and Steve Benjamin – were in the top group. Kneulman did a nice job to take first in this 5 leg race to wrap up a solid first day. Robert Elliott had a similarly good day, crossing in second for second overall.

“The race committee, led by PRO Jeff Zarwell, did a great job completing two races in a short time window, getting everyone back to the dock before sunset,” said race co-chair Steve Fentress, and seconded by many racers.

“It was mayhem on the starting line because everyone is so good,” said Dirk Kneulman (BER), one of the three Etchells boat builders, and a previous world champion. “We had a bad first start but clawed our way back to finish in 8th. We had a great start in the second race, found a clean lane and were lucky to be the first boat to the windward mark.”

“This is the most competitive Etchells Worlds we’ve been to,” said Steve Benjamin (USA). “It’s just getting harder and harder.” Benjamin placed a disappointing 33rd in the first race after restarting due to OCS, and 3rd in the second race to finish the day in 16th place.

With several of the contenders taking on big scores, it was Kneulman and his team of Grant Simmer and Mark Strube that rolled an 8-1 to hold a two point lead over Robert Elliott (GBR) sailing with Stuart Childerley and Tom Forrester-Coles.

More light airs forecast for tomorrow with two races planned for what could be another long day on the water.
Editor’s note: The race organizers were struggling on day one to score the races, with the results finally getting online hours after the last race. However, we suspect that wasn’t the end of the struggles as the results were later revised after 10pm PT. Our initial report had the top Corinthian team of Senet Bischoff and his team of Ben Kinney and Clay Bischoff in eigth overall, but now they are in sixth. Maybe they bought a round at the bar. Day one of any event can have its bumps, but we’d hope scoring races wouldn’t be one of them. Hopefully day two will go better.
The 2017 Etchells World Championship is scheduled from September 26 to 30 with 9 races planned. If seven or more races are sailed, there will be one throw out.

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Day One Results (Top 10 of 51; 2 races)

About the Etchells Class
For over fifty years the Etchells class has enjoyed solid and steady growth with over fifty active fleets worldwide. Etchells sailors are enthusiastic and loyal supporters of their boat and class association. The Etchells is a big, fast, simple, stable, and sleek racing sloop that can be sailed competitively and in comfort by three or four average sailors. It can tack in 70 degrees and has a low wetted surface hull form that keeps moving in the slightest breeze. In 20+ knots it absolutely flies.

The strict one-design principle of the Etchells class was established from the outset and is controlled by a strong, established and well-administered class association. Control of construction by the class association and World Sailing ensures quality and uniformity. It’s easy to trailer and light enough to dry sail; and Etchells hold exceptional resale value.

Source: Leslie Richter, Steve Girling

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